Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Basking in Bali: Exploring Batuan and Ubud (Kebune Bali, Tegenungan Waterfalls and Tegallalang Rice Terraces)

If there was one thing (apart from surfing) that I'd love to try in Bali, it's cycling. I've read up on tourist spots and cycling spots prior, and also told our driver Wayan that I'd really, really love to cycle around Ubud's countryside. Silly me, I've forgotten that my sister isn't the outdoorsy type, and Wayan also told me the cycling part in Ubud is far. My heart wept (so drama, lol) but I guess I'll have to do that activity another time.

On our 2nd day in Bali, our driver picked us up at 8:30am from the hotel to get an early start to Ubud which was an hour away from Kuta. Having no plans again, I just flipped through the tour book that was in the van and told Wayan I wanted to check out how authentic batik was made, visit a traditional Balinese village, see the waterfalls and the rice terraces. So off we went.


On the way to Ubud, we passed by Sari Amerta Batik Collection showroom to witness how batik paintings are made. Funny how batik has always been a part of my life but I never really thought much about it. My Dad who works in Mindanao always sends us fabric with batik prints so it has become somewhat very regular for us, until we discovered how real batik was made. 

Batik is created by:

1) stenciling in the design on cotton fabric
2)  painting the design using molten beeswax
3) fabric is let out to dry

And then depending on the intricacy of the design and the number of colors, steps 2-3 are repeated (up to 20 times even!) in order to create the finished product. It takes about 3-5 days to completely finish painting one cotton fabric. The whole process is so labor-intensive, it made me respect these artisans even more.

tools of the trade

And now we enter the showroom:

Rows and rows of beautiful, colorful designs on dresses, slippers, bags, wallets, even fans!

The bigger and more intricate paintings are all on the second floor.

Got my Mom a batik buddha painting and some slippers for myself (because you know, small feet). 

Buddha batik painting :IDR 155,000
Batik slippers: IDR 70,000

Traditional painting is very much still alive in Bali so we headed to another gallery shortly after to see how it's done. 

The Balinese are very friendly and soft-spoken and highly encourage haggling. They won't force you to buy or shout at you, (as in the case of our experience in India) rather they will lovingly say to any tourist, "You can still bargain," and then the actual haggling ensues. They also don't make a fuss if you end up not buying (don't haggle naman if you don't intend to buy). 

No entrance fee but you are encouraged to give a donation of at least IDR 10,000

We took a quick detour and passed by Batuan to explore the traditional Balinese village. 

The Balinese are also into cockfighting
One of the traditional Balinese houses
Of course while I took all the photos, my sister spent her time playing with these really cute Dachshunds.

Wayan plays the Gamelan instrument for us
At this point, my sister was already bugging Wayan for her caffeine fix so we drove to Kebune Bali where we can taste Bali's famous Luwak Coffee (Civet or Alamid Coffee in the PH).

Kebune Bali prides itself in offering homegrown teas and coffee. They have a farm in the outskirts so this cafe is merely a showroom of what they have to offer.

Cacao Beans that Oompa Loompas would go crazy over
Who knew that Ginger had flowers?
Sniffing some cloves
Civet (or Luwak) is considered as the most prized coffee in the world due to its unusual process and limited supply. Civets only pick the finest, ripest coffee berries to eat, only it can't digest the stone and poops it out. The berries are then collected, cleaned, and dried, then made into Civet Coffee.  

Civets are caged here just for the tour (and are kept for a max of 1 year and then set free) because they don't eat coffee berries and produce these prized beans if kept in captivity. The tour guide said their farm has wild civets which produce all the coffee beans they need.

Dried Luwak coffee beans
crushed coffee
Visiting Kebune Bali entitles you to a free taste of all their teas, but you have to pay IDR 50,000/cup for the Luwak Coffee.

click to enlarge

Kebune Bali also makes their own milk chocolate laced with orange, they gave us some cubes for tasting.

The teas, I have to say, are all very flavorful! My picks are Mangosteen, Lemon, and Rosella teas.

Luwak Coffee is best taken as is (no creamer/milk or sugar) and my personal opinion is it was just okay. It was strong and flavorful, but it's not really something I haven't tasted before. That said, I went home with a  bag of Lemon Tea.

Our driver Wayan proudly shows off his Ganesha tattoo alongside a Columbian tourist (Wayan was too shy to ask the girl for a photo but I made it happen, haha). Ganesha is one of the most-worshipped Hindu deities (and probably the most recognizable because of its elephant head). Ganesha is known as the Lord of Success.

Entrance fee: IDR 10,000/pax

Bali weather is so hot so having a dip in one of several waterfalls seemed like a good idea. Wayan took us to Tegenungan Waterfalls which in a way reminded me of the one in Quezon. The main difference is you have to climb up and down the hill to get there -- all 300+ steps of it! I haven't done any sort of workout in months. Oh boy.

Now it was a Sunday and although there was supposedly less traffic in Ubud, there were so many tourists and locals bathing in the river. We left our things in the car with our driver (I didn't want to risk the camera getting wet) so these are the only shots we have:

really cold water
I was wearing a bandeau under my dress (probably not one of my best ideas) and didn't expect the current and the force of the waterfalls to be so strong (I had previously gone to the waterfalls in Surigao and my top survived). 

Here you can see how strong the wind is even, haha. My top almost came off, but who cares. I bet it happens to everyone :P

Entrance fee: IDR10,000/pax

Much like our Banawe Rice Terraces, these rice paddies are agricultural marvels turned tourist spots. The steps are quite narrow with some paths leading nowhere, forcing us to retrace our steps just to explore the other sides. Our driver, Wayan, just told us to go down and explore and he'll go meet us at the other side. Umm..okay, I was hoping for a quick explanation of the relevance of the paddies to Bali's economy or its history at least.

But anyway, off we go...

This farmer was so jolly and told me we can have our photo taken. So yay! And then he started asking me for money and was relentless about it. I just left, haha. I'm sorry but I'm Pinoy, you can't mess with me. This is why I speak really strong Filipino (Tagalog) in Bali, if they think I'm white or a foreigner they'll milk me for my money for sure.

The paddies are on the cliff so it was slightly scary to walk around. FYI, I was wearing a dress but with swimming trunks underneath.

Proof that this has become a huge tourist attraction in Bali, you'll notice the stores are sprawled as you ascend. They sell everything from scarves, clothes, souvenirs, food, etc.

Again, we were impressed with how soft-spoken and accommodating the Balinese are towards buyers. When we asked how much the dress was, a little girl said, "IDR 100,000, but you can bargain," in the most malambing voice ever.

At another stall, we fell in love with a IDR600,000 long dress and haggled it down to IDR300,000.

On the way back to Kuta, it was so darn traffic and I fell asleep in the van (with my mouth open maybe!). I remember arriving at the hotel around 7pm, we freshened up and then roamed around Kuta Square some more looking for a cafe or somewhere to have dinner. And that's coming up next, where to eat and where to shop. Whew, so glad we're done with all the touristy stuff!

More Bali adventures here:

Today's expenses: 

Cost of whole day van rental, petrol, and driver: IDR 500,000
Driver: Wayan Sudarma +62-821 47478575


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